Friday, April 30, 2010

Project-17(A) Frigates To Have Indian Weapon Fit, 127-mm Main Gun

The seven follow-on Project 17 (Alpha) stealth frigates to be built in India will have a significant Indian weapons fit. The Project 17 stealth frigate INS Shivalik that was commissioned into the Indian Navy yesterday is equipped with the Russian Shtil and Klub and Israeli Barak missile system. According to Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) chairman Vice Admiral (Retd) HS Malhi, the follow on Alpha series will carry the BrahMos anti-ship and land attack supersonic cruise missile in vertical configuration and the Barak-8 long-range surface to air missile (LR-SAM). MDL will build four of the P17(A) frigates, while the Garden Reach Shipbuilders (GRSE) will build the other three in Kolkata. The class feature frigates that will be longer and broader than the Shivalik-class. And instead of the Italian Otobreda 76-mm super rapid gun mount (SRGM), the P17(A) warships will have a 127-mm main gun, most likely the Otobreda 127/64 light weight gun.

Photo by Shiv Aroor / INS Shivalik at Naval Dockyard Mumbai

Nervous Indian Oil Corp Refuses To "Hot Refuel" Gripen During MMRCA Evaluation Tests

The Gripen team in India is understood to have tried hard to push for the chance to demonstrate the fighter's "hot refuelling" capability, but was unable to do so after Indian Oil Aviation -- the standard supplier of aviation fuel to the Indian Air Force -- refused to be part of such an exercise. Hot refueling is a process by which a fighter is refuelled (in between sorties) while its engines are still on, thereby cutting down refuelling time by half and turn-around time significantly -- a capacity highly desirable in a combat situation, which basically puts aside the need for a pilot to park the aircraft, power down and exit the cockpit for refuelling to begin.

According to sources, the Gripen team was very keen to demonstrate the hot refuelling capability -- even the IAF had no problems witnessing the demonstration even though it wasn't required as part of the tests -- but the offer was shot down by Indian Oil, which said it had never conducted a hot refueling operation before, and wasn't sure it was equipped to take the risk, despite assurances from Saab that it was standard practice with the Gripen. Hot refueling, it must be said, does have its share of risks.

The incident has, however, had its effect. The IAF is now keen to witness a hot refueling demonstration, and will look favourably upon such a capability in its final evaluation of the MMRCA competition. Also, it has requested Indian Oil Aviation to set about getting itself certified for hot refueling ops for the future. IOC will need to look abroad for any sort of certification. Hot refueling trucks and crews in the US, for example, receive special training and certification from an agency in the USAF command structure.

USAF Photo of Gripen at Nellis AFB, 2008

Russian Cruiser Moskva Docks At Kochi

The photos above shows the Moskva, a Russian Slava-class guided missile cruiser of the Black Sea Fleet entering Kochi waters.

Photo Courtesy Southern Naval Command

Indian Army Wants Diver Propulsion Vehicles For Its Special Ops Frogmen

The Indian Army is looking to buy diver propulsion vehicles (DPVs) for its commando divers. Here's what the RFI states: "The DPV should be capable of carrying two fully equipped combat divers along with additional 60 to 80-kg of cargo over a distance of not less than 5 nautical miles. It should have a cruising speed not less than 2-knots and be capable of operating upto a depth of 30m. The DPV should have an advanced and reliable navigation system preferably with depth gauging facility. It should be light weight, made of marine grade materials and be able to be easily carried over land by two personnel over short distance and in a vehicle over longer distances and also be capable of being para-dropped with suitable preparations."

Indian Army For New Short Range SAM System To Replace OSA-AK Batteries

The Indian Army has published a request for information (RFI) for a prospective new short range surface-to-air missile system to replace its Soviet-vintage OSA-AK (SA-8) and SA-6 units, long overdue for overhaul and replacement. The Army is looking for a 20-km range missile system with active and passive guidance, with the capacity to engage targets moving upto 500 metres/second, and including hovering targets. In the RFI, the Army wants to know if prospective bidders' systems can be (a) mounted on wheeled chassis, (b) capable of being rail transported in India, (c) operated in desert, semi-desert and Indian plain conditions.

PHOTOS: INS Shivalik's Helo Deck And Hangar

The ship's helo deck is built for a Sea King or MH-60R class of chopper.

Photos by Shiv Aroor

PHOTOS: INS Shivalik Stealth Frigate From The Inside

The INS Shivalik created history by firing its main gun during its first ever sortie on June 12 last year. With 23 sorties on its log at the time of commissioning, she's well into her work-up, and has already completed most of her weapons work-up. The fit and finish of the ship on the inside is splendid. The kit on board is all strictly top notch stuff. Crew quarters are comfortable and thoughtful. Like commissioning CO Captain MD Suresh said, "This is one generation ahead of anything the Indian Navy has right now." The crew has our very best wishes. May the enemy wither in your wake.

Photos by Shiv Aroor

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Off To Mumbai To Watch F47 Become INS Shivalik

Will be in Mumbai on April 29 to cover the commissioning of the Indian Navy's first indigenously-built Project 17 stealth frigate, Shivalik. Photographs and updates on Thursday.

PHOTOS: More Top Shots of Shivalik

$5.8-Billion C-17s For India Deal Progresses

In the latest step towards the final sale of 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster-III heavy transports to the Indian Air Force, the Pentagon has notified US Congress of the prospective sale. According to the notification, "The Government of India (GOI) requests a possible sale of 10 Boeing C-17 GLOBEMASTER III aircraft, 45 F117-PW-100 engines (40 installed and 5 spare engines), 10 AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems, 10 AN/AAR-47Missile Warning Systems, spare and repairs parts, repair and return, warranty, pyrotechnics, flares, other explosives, aircraft ferry and refueling support, crew armor, mission planning system software, communication equipment and support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $5.8 billion."

Photo by Shiv Aroor / Agra Cope India 2009

Monday, April 26, 2010

HAL/BEL Team To Build Rustom MALE UAV, Pvt Industry Furious

Today's Mint has scooped the story of a team of HAL and BEL winning the contract to be "production agency cum development partner" (PADP) for the indigenous Rustom medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV. Private industries like L&T and the Mahindras are furious. For full details of the terms of the PADP contract, see my earlier post.

PHOTO: Indian Air Force Commanders' Conference

Sunday, April 25, 2010

IAF "Flight Safety" Journal Is Now "Aerospace Safety"

Started in 1961, the Indian Air Force's excellent flight safety journal (Flight Safety) changed its name last month to Aerospace Safety in keeping with the IAF's prospective use of space for operations. The fine journal has gone through many names since its birth, including the rather dry Safety Journal and Flight Safety Newsletter to the decidedly romantic Flight Guardian. Here's wishing the journal and its team the very best!

EXCLUSIVE: NAL-Mahindra Multirole General Aviation Aircraft NM5-100 Detailed

EXCLUSIVE: India's RTA-70 Regional Airliner Detailed

India's RTA-70 Regional Airliner To Fly In 2013

Copyright Vayu Aerospace

PHOTOS: US Navy Warships Off Goa For Exercise Malabar

Photo 1: Cmdr. H.B. Le, commanding officer (left) of the of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen and Executive Officer, Cmdr. Stephen Johnson (right), observes the crew at work while preparing the ship for arrival in Goa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki)

Photo 2:
– Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen man the rails while mooring in Goa ahead of Malabar 2010.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki)

Friday, April 23, 2010

PHOTOS: LCA Tejas LSP-3 Makes Maiden Flight!

The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA Tejas) Limited Series Production (LSP) 3 aircraft took off for the first time today. This is the ninth test vehicle to join the flight line to undertake development flight trials of the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas towards operational clearance for induction in the IAF by the end of the year. The LSP-3 is a quantum jump in terms of the equipment fit on the aircraft. It is almost the final configuration including the new air-data computers, Israeli Elta multimode radar, new communication and navigation equipment and radar warning receiver. With this successful flight, the LCA programme is very close to Initial Operations Clearance (IOC), to be achieved by December. The remaining effort is mostly flight testing and demonstration of sensors and weapon performance.

The test aircraft was flown by Wg Cdr G Thomas, VM of the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) at ADA. As per procedure the first flight was accompanied by a chase aircraft which was a Tejas Trainer flown by Gp Capt RR Tyagi, the Chief Test Pilot and Wg Cdr (Retd) PK Raveendran SC, the Group Director (Flight Test). The test flight was conducted from the Telemetry station by the Test Director, Wg Cdr S Toffeen, under the supervision of Air Cmde Rohit Varma VM, the Project Director (Flight Test). The flight took off from HAL airport in Bangalore and all the objectives of the flight were met within the duration of 52 minutes.

With this flight the total number of test flights accumulated across nine test vehicles of the Tejas programme has reached one thousand three hundred and fifty and has logged about 800 hrs of flight.

Text Abridged From DRDO Statement
Photos Courtesy DRDO

14th Edition Of Malabar Indo-US Naval Exercises Underway In Arabian Sea

Indian Navy Statement: MALABAR CY 10, will be conducted in the Arabian Sea from 23 Apr to 02 May 2010. This, the fourteenth round of exercise MALABAR, has frontline units of US Navy’s 7th fleet and Indian Navy’s Western Fleet participating. The scope of MALABAR exercise includes diverse range of operational activities at sea. During MALABAR CY 10, the US Navy will be represented by ships from CTF 70 of the USN 7th Fleet which is based at Yokosuka, Japan. The CTF will include the Cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), Destroyers USS Chaffee (DDG 90), USS Lassen (DDG 82) and Frigate USS Curts (FFG 38). In addition, one Los Angeles class nuclear powered submarine, USS Annapolis (SSN 760), two P3C Orion aircraft and a 28 member US Navy Special Forces team will also participate in the exercise. The Indian Navy will be represented by INS Mysore, an indigenous Delhi Class guided missile destroyer and three guided missile frigates, INS Godavari, INS Brahmaputra and INS Tabar. In addition, one Shishumar class submarine, INS Shankush, Sea Harrier fighters, other fixed and rotary wing aircraft are also scheduled to participate in the bilateral exercise.

The thrust of the exercise this year would be on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Surface Firings, Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) and Submarine Operations. The exercise is primarily aimed at deriving mutual benefit from each others experiences.